Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Days: Meal Planning

How far ahead do you plan your meals? I know some people that plan their meals out months in advance and others that don’t really plan meals at all and just head to the store with an “idea” of what meals they plan to make for the week. I plan my meals out only 1-2 weeks at a time and only shop for 1 weeks meals at a time. Here is my process:

First, I look at my planner for the week ahead to determine how many meals I need to plan for. There are some weeks that we are going to a party one night and therefore don’t need to cook a meal that night. Sometimes Rarely, we have a Parents Night Out for dinner which means I don’t need to plan a big meal for that evening.

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Between Pinterest, blogs, and magazines, I am constantly coming across recipes that I would like to try. If I find the recipes in magazines, I cut them out and file them in my file box until I get a chance to try them.

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I have a folder designated for each type of recipe: main dish, breakfast, desserts, snacks/appetizers…

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Once I have tried the recipe and decide that I would like to make it again, I find a more permanent place to keep it. Sometimes I find a link for it online and save it in my Pinterest account. Other times, I actually type it up and save it in my Tastebook account. Eventually, I will get around to ordering one of the cookbooks from Tastebook with all of my favorite recipes that I have saved!

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If I come across a recipe that I would like to try out the next week, I write it down on my meal planning sheet.

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As you can see, I don’t have the days of the week pre-printed on this form. I simply write down the meals that I would like for the week along with side dishes, any meals/snacks that are needed for parties or church activities, etc. I also plan for school lunches at this time as well.

Sometimes I make my grocery list as I add meals to the form. Other times I just refer to the meal form on Thursdays when I make my grocery list.

Next, I look at the coming week to decide which meals will be on which day of the week. I take our schedule into consideration when doing this. For instance, my girls go to AWANA on Wednesday nights. I make a point not to plan a meal for that night that is going to take a lot of time to prepare. I also try to plan meals at the beginning of the week that have ingredients that will spoil quickly. So…if I have a meal that requires fresh green beans, I will make that meal ASAP in order to avoid the green beans going bad.

For the most part, planning out my meals this way has helped avoid the chaos at dinner time…you know… “what are we having for dinner???” There still are evenings when I decide I don’t want to make what I had planned for that evening…or I realize that I am missing one of the ingredients for that nights meal. Those instances are few and far between though.

How do you plan your meals? What are your favorite sources for great recipes?

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the Erasable Freezer Labels!! Giveaway ends Friday, October 21st!!

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